Amino acid sequences common to rapidly degraded proteins: the PEST hypothesis

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Science  17 Oct 1986:
Vol. 234, Issue 4774, pp. 364-368
DOI: 10.1126/science.2876518


The amino acid sequences of ten proteins with intracellular half-lives less than 2 hours contain one or more regions rich in proline (P), glutamic acid (E), serine (S), and threonine (T). These PEST regions are generally, but not always, flanked by clusters containing several positively charged amino acids. Similar inspection of 35 proteins with intracellular half-lives between 20 and 220 hours revealed that only three contain a PEST region. On the basis of this information, it was anticipated that caseins, which contain several PEST sequences, would be rapidly degraded within eukaryotic cells. This expectation was confirmed by red blood cell-mediated microinjection of 125I-labeled caseins into HeLa cells where they exhibited half-lives of less than 2 hours. The rapid degradation of injected alpha- and beta-casein as well as the inverse correlation of PEST regions with intracellular stability indicate that the presence of these regions can result in the rapid intracellular degradation of the proteins containing them.

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